Non-smokers are at the expense of health insurance companies

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Smoking cessation required at the expense of health insurance

Smokers have a much higher risk of developing illness than non-smokers. Every year, the health insurance companies spend several hundred million euros for sometimes serious secondary diseases. Pulmonologists and scientists therefore demand that smoking cessation therapies be included in the service catalog by the statutory health insurance companies. In the future, costs could be saved in spite of additional expenses because illnesses are avoided.

Equality for addiction patients
A abstinence from nicotine sometimes causes severe withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, headache, dizziness and excessive sweating. The symptoms occur mainly because the body's reward system, stimulated by the neurotoxin nicotine, is absent during withdrawal. Most of those affected therefore need active support to get away from the glowing stems. Pulmonologists and cancer experts are asking health insurance companies to cover the costs of quitting smoking so that there will be more non-smokers in Germany in the future. Because the addiction potential is just as serious, "as with other addictions". Addiction patients should be treated in exactly the same way, "like drug and alcohol addicts," demand the German Cancer Research Center, the German Society for Addiction Research and Addiction Therapy, the German Heart Foundation, the Scientific Action Group on Tobacco Weaning, the Federal Association of Pneumologists (BdP) and the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and neurology in a joint statement. Other European countries such as Sweden, Finland or Great Britain are already one step further on this point. There the costs have been borne by the health insurers for some time.

The health insurance companies argue that they are not obliged to pay for so-called “lifestyle treatments”. The "dependence on cigarettes is a serious and pathological dependency" and not trivializing a lifestyle phenomenon, explained the deputy chairman of the association of pulmonary specialists Dr. med. Thomas Hering.

Risk factor of more than 40 chronic diseases
In addition to being overweight, smoking is a preventable "risk factor of more than 40 chronic diseases". Many cancers, cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure or myocardial infarction and metabolic disorders such as type II diabetes as well as lung diseases such as lung cancer or smoking cough (COPD) could be avoided if you quit smoking immediately. In Germany, however, addicted smokers are waiting in vain for health insurance companies to pay the cost of therapy, warned Henning.

According to calculations by the researchers and associations, the health insurance companies would have to pay about "one million euros per day" for the reimbursement of the therapies alone, but the health insurance companies would save more financial resources overall because a large part of the secondary diseases will be avoided in the near future could. According to some studies, around 7.5 billion euros a year are used to treat serious diseases. If incapacity for work, early retirement and deaths were included, the national economy would suffer total annual damage of around EUR 21 billion.

"Those affected should be given help to help them get out of it once and for all." Cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with medication has proven to be effective, as the Federal Ministry of Health from department head Daniel Bahr (FDP) said. Recent surveys have shown that around 20 million adult people in Germany are dependent on tobacco use. According to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), around 120,000 people die each year from the late effects of smoking. In addition to conventional smoke-free programs, there are also alternative concepts. Hypnosis has proven to be helpful in recent years. (sb)

Read on:
World No Tobacco Day: Tips and tricks to stop
Less smoking due to work stress?
Smoking weakens cancer protection genes
Smoking damages the genes in minutes
With hypnosis to a non-smoker

Image: Martin Büdenbender /

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Video: 5 Visions About The Future Of Health Insurance - The Medical Futurist


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